Monsanto ducking and diving in Indonesia (21/5/2003)

21 May 2003

Monsanto ducking and diving in Indonesia

It took a media black out and the help of the Indonesian military for Monsanto to get its GM cotton seed into Indonesia. But now in a letter to Indonesia's Minister of Agriculture, Monsanto pleads its not making any money out of it and demands lighter regulation for it products.
"Although we have already invested heavily in the Bollgard Cotton business since 1999 we have never generated profits"
Jakarta, March 5, 2003
Prof. Dr. Ir. Bungaran Saragih, Mec.
The Ministry of Agriculture

Dear Honorable Minister,

I am very grateful to you for making time available during your recent visit to Yogjakarta to meet with me.

At Monsanto, we value and welcome your input, support and suggestion as we move forward to successfully introducing this new technology for the benefit of all stakeholders in Indonesia.

Monsanto has a long-term commitment to, and - we believe - a significant role to play in the development of, agriculture in Indonesia in partnership with the authorities and other stakeholders - especially through the introduction of valuable new technologies and product, such as Roundup Ready corn.

We are committed to working the existing regulator framework to ensure proper and responsible stewardship of our products. Nevertheless, our experience with our insect protected cotton, Bollgard Cotton, has demonstrated that a viable growth plan for that business is not possible in the current regulator climate. As I explained to you, the principal hurdles we face include:
¨ The current approval needs to be renewed annually,
¨ Approval is restricted to 9 regencies in South Sulawesi Province,
¨ By-products are required to be exported or destroyed,
¨ No Food safety approval is available,
¨ The monitoring program required is so limited to an annual commitment,
¨ The current Ministry of Environment Decree on AMDAL, which requires an AMDAL, for the cultivation of transgenic crops,
¨ The absence of Food Safety Approvals for crops produced through biotechnology, despite the submission of various application dating back to February 2001.

The submission of independent studies and data generated over 2 years evidencing the safety and environment [acceptability] of the product appear to have done little to overcome these hurdles.

While farmers are anxious to continue to use the product, the regulator constraints preclude a successful commercial strategy for Monsanto.
Although we have already invested heavily in the Bollgard Cotton business since 1999 we have never generated profits, and our forecasts indicate that the business will not become viable unless and until the regulator issues are addressed.

Therefore we would like to make the following proposals to ensure that there is a continued supply of Bollgard Cotton to farmers in Indonesia, to avoid disruption in the channel, and to avoid a complete withdrawal.
1. Monsanto proposes to supply Bollgard Cotton seed to the Ministry of Agriculture, free of royalty fees and at a nominal value for the seed,
2. The Ministry could offer the seed to farmers through its own distribution network and/or appoint a private partner of assist,
3. The Ministry could appoint a Cotton Ginnery or Ginning partner,
4. The Ministry could sell the cotton lint and fuzzy seed through its own structures or appoint a cotton dealer,
5. Monsanto and its partners would no longer be responsible for obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals for the commercialization of the cotton seed or its by-products, but the technology would remain available to growers.
6. Monsanto would provide technical assistance on the use of the seed,
7. Monsanto would continue to work with the your ministry in Indonesia to bring new biotechnology projects to Indonesia.

Given that the next planting season is soon upon us (March), clearly it would be in our mutual interest to achieve consensus on how to move forward as soon as possible.

I sincerely hope we can develop and establish a workable relationship based on the above proposals, and I look forward to your response  

Your sincerely,
Kobus Burger

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